The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a measure Tuesday to increase enforcement against egregious public health order violators and business who remain open in defiance of closure orders
Many times, enforcement requires a partnership with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The department has been trying to get compliance by education, but a spokesperson says they are prepared to do more if they must.
“When we get a call for service, we respond and handle that call,” said Undersheriff Mike Barnett. “Whether it’s a bar, or gym, or whatever it is.”
Barnett says the department receives around 40 to 50 complaints every day. And that sometimes means a citation up to $1,000 or six months of jail.
“Every single day that the violation happens there is a new charge,” said Barnett. “So, if the business is open for six days that means a $6,000 fine or three years in jail."
Since the pandemic started the department has issued 144 citations, according to Barnett. He says they've also submitted several cases to the DA's office for prosecution.
“There’s a lot of people hurting out there,” said Barnett. “These business owners want to pay their rent, feed their families, pay their bills. It’s very difficult to go out there and tell someone they have to close. But, nonetheless, that is the issue we are in right now. The most important thing is that we stop people from getting sick and we get through this as soon as possible.”
Barnett says they will continue to approach compliance through education first. But if that doesn’t work, they are prepared to take legal action.